Cariñena is a Spanish Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) for wines located in Cariñena in the province of Zaragoza (Aragón, Spain). It is among the oldest protected growing areas in Europe, the DO having been created in 1932 alongside other Spanish wine regions. Cariñena vineyards are located near the centre of Aragón, about 50 km southwest of Zaragoza, on the Campo de Cariñena plateau. The lower vineyards lie at an altitude of 400 m, rising to 800 m as they approach the Sierra de la Virgen mountains. To the west they border on the Calatayud (DO).
The 1990s was a period of rapid development due partly to the numerous mergers of small wineries and cooperatives, and to the adaptation of the wines produced to a more modern palate. The traditional robust, high alcohol content wines are still produced for local consumption, but now fruitier, lighter and well balanced wines are also produced in response to the tastes and preferences of the average export consumer. Exports have quadrupled since 1995 and a new research centre is helping to improve production.
The region is the acknowledged source of the Cariñena / Carignan grape, which is also grown in France, Italy, California, and several other New World regions. The grape is still widely grown in Cariñena, and its official Spanish name is now Mazuelo.
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